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25.04.2004 Business & Finance

Ghana receives grant for Community Investment Fund

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Winneba (C/R), April 25, GNA - Ghana has been provided with an 8.7 million dollar-grant by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) towards the early take-off of the Community Investment Fund (CIF) project designed to assist people living in 30 selected forest reserve zones in the country.
The selected forest reserve areas have been identified as" hot spots" for biodiversity conservation zones by researchers. The Government and the Forestry Services Commission (FSC) initiated the CIF project jointly about a year ago, but lack of funds had delayed its implementation.
Mr Oppon Sasu, Team Manager of the CIF project, who announced this at the inauguration of a seven-member implementation committee for the Awutu-Effutu-Senya district at Winneba, said the CIF would be operated as a revolving fund to cater for the economic needs of present and future generations of the selected communities.
He said the principal objective of the fund was to stop people living around the 30 selected forest reserve areas from depending heavily on forest resources for their livelihood, adding that beneficiaries of the fund would be allowed to operate any business of their choice.
Mr Sasu cautioned members of the implementation committee against discrimination, saying that the money does not belong to any political, ethnic or religious organization.
"You must ensure fair distribution and absolute transparency in all your dealings as far as the administration of the fund is concerned", he added.
Mr Sasu said initially, the fund would be operated on pilot basis in five areas - Atewa Range, Cape Three Points, Krokosua Hills, the Southern Dry Forests Group and the Tano Offin Forest Reserves. Initially, 2.5 million dollars of the total grant will be used for the pilot project.
He said to ensure effective protection of the reserves and their biodiversity properties, the Forestry Services Commission had established Community Biodiversity Groups (CBAGs) in communities around the various forest areas to serve as rallying points for mobilizing communities to participate in the conservation.
Mr Matthew Yaw Ababio, Deputy Programme Co-ordinator of the Ministry of Lands and Forestry (MFL), reiterated government's determination to protect and promote the development of the country's forest resources.
He therefore charged members of the CIF implementation committee to operate in a manner that would augment government moves to sustain the forests for the benefit of both the present of future generations. He reminded Ghanaians that the protection and conservation of the forests was the collective responsibility of both the citizenry and the government, particularly, communities in the forest zones.
Captain Steve Kwamena Armah (Rtd), District Chief Executive for Awutu-Effutu-Senya, expressed appreciation to the government for promoting forest conservation in the district and assured that his office would ensure transparent disbursement of the fund to the beneficiary communities to avoid confusion among the people. Capt. Armah reiterated earlier warning to the implementers of the fund, saying that they must eschew the tendency of partisanship in the disbursement of the money. 25 Apr. 04

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